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SNUH develops 3D printing tech to treat intractable brain cancer
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.03.20 14:51
  • Updated 2019.03.20 14:51
  • comments 0

Researchers at Seoul National University have developed a technique that can treat intractable brain cancer, which has a survival rate of only 2 percent within five years.

From left, Professors Paek Sun-ha, Cho Dong-woo, Jeong Young-hun and Yi Hee-gyeong

The team, led by Professor Paek Sun-ha of the department of neurosurgery at the hospital and Professor Cho Dong-woo from Pohang University of Science and Technology, isolated cancer cells from cancer patients who had improved symptoms through chemotherapy and cancer patients who had their symptoms deteriorate even further.

Afterward, the team cultured the cells on a specially fabricated chip using 3D cell printing technology. As a result, the researchers demonstrated that they could reproduce the same cancer cell therapy response as conventional chemotherapies with their chip.

The team first applied 3D bio-printing technology to make artificial tissues or artificial organs, and implemented the environment of glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer, in the chip.

Also, the researchers fabricated concentric ring structure by sequentially printing the bio-ink consisting of glioblastoma and human vascular cells extracted from the patient's body, while printing the chip's wall with oxygen-permeable silicone.

As the result of printing a cell and cultivating it on a chip simulating the environment of actual glioblastoma, the team could reproduce the pathological features of cell tumors on the chip. Until now, conventional in vitro cell culture has not been able to confirm such features.

In the case of patients with good chemotherapeutic efficacy, the chip, which contained three types of glioblastoma cells isolated from the patients, had a cancer cell survival rate of less than 40 percent. However, regarding the chip, which contained four types of glioblastoma cells isolated from patients with exacerbated cancer, the survival rate of cancer cells was more than 53 percent

The team also tested standard treatments using the same single drug on the same chips and saw a cancer cell survival of about 54 percent, while a chip that tested the optimal drug combination had a cancer cell survival rate of 23 percent.

“The results confirmed that cell-printing technology could be used to find a customized anticancer combination for each patient in the future treatment of brain cancer,” Professor Paek said. “The team expects that the results of this study will be used to develop glioblastoma therapies and help patients and families suffering from the illness.”

Nature Biomedical Engineering published the results of the study.


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